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Flurry of blog-reader alerts Friday on CTA problems

Friday night's rush hour was the first time that members of our CTA wireless alert community pulled together to send text messages about problems on both the Red and Brown Lines. (You can sign up quickly using this simple form.

Here are some of the messages sent to cell phones of those signed up:

"Problem on brown tween sedgwick & armitage southbound"

"Delay red line fight on train"

"Big delays NB brown line also."

Then there were train users trying to get more info:

"Where on red line and in what direction? This community would be much more helpful if we all reported more detail. "

"What's the status of the brown line delay? Thinking i'm gonna take the bus. "

And the reply to that: "Brown delays to Belmont then fast to kimball "

I applaud this great start. But how can we improve?

First, Lyz had it right: "Alerts are appropriate when or for the following: train is out of service. 15+ min delays during peak travel. Certain stations are closed. Fire, Tornado, Accident on the L, Reroutes, Terrorist actions, Apocalypse."

Yep, agreed! These messages do cost money for the users.

Plus, we should try to give as much info as possible. But keep in mind that the sender may only have that small nugget of info that you think is not enough. So any other nuggets that others can add is important.

I really do think we're on a cutting edge here, but please, no bloodshed!


I think it's great to see the community trying something new to fill a glaring void in the CTA communication. As mentioned: the folks sending the messages probably know very little about the delay because who's going to tell them?

I think improvements could be made through standardization. Obviously, info about which line(s) is/are being affected is necessary. And the direction. (Like NB for northbound SB for southbound or IB/OB for inbound and outbound). Also, maybe the station name would be useful.

So a quick message cound be: "Delay SB Red @ Fullerton" Any additional info, like Why would be great if it's known.

This is new so there will be hiccups but understand that the intentions of the sender are good ones. The information that you get from the sender is much better than you'll get from the CTA. That's for sure.

I was at dinner when the flurry of alerts came in. I had to grin at the resourcefulness of my fellow commuters but sympathize with their being delayed. Good thing I drove home early on Friday!

IB/OB is good for inbound or outbound. then state the color of the line then a @ with the location of a station closing/slowdown, or a "bw" closing "between" two stations.

this should be the mandatory info. more info can be added at the messenger's discretion. anything else that should be deemed mandatory?

It's a great idea, but it would be really nice if you could limit the text messages to the train line that you actually need to know. For example, I take the Blue Line. I don't need a bunch of text messages (each of which are extra charges on my cell phone) for Red, Brown, Orange and Purple line delays. In fact, I hesitate to sign up for that reason. Thanks.

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